Of course there’s a Spanish professor who says we should not teach Borges at all, we should teach about the drug wars, but I will have to go further with him, not less far. My irritation with the version of Borges taught in many English classes is that they call him and various others “magical realists” and I find it reductive, decontextualized and old fashioned. They also call Arguedas and Vargas Llosa “magical realist,” and they bring everybody down to the pulp romance level of Allende and Esquivel or the dull mechanistic Fuentes. They don’t teach any actually interesting women, or an interesting user of folk belief like Carpentier, or the users of the fantastic and speculative actually related to Borges like Quiroga, Bioy, or Macedonio. I should be grateful they are at least teaching anything, I do guess, and I should develop a counter-course, I suppose, since I seem to care. The other thing is that although Borges did spend time in Spain in his youth, he’s an Argentine writer and there is all of this Argentine material in his work, even a nationalistic phase. Then, going back to the magical, there is the question of Gothic. I mean there are ghosts walking and things like that throughout the 19th century, so there are all of these things to consider about Borges and the fantastic that don’t have to do with exoticist fantasy or dreck like Como agua para chocolate. So I guess I’ll start reading those cono sur classics again, I never really read Onetti or Sábato very well, or much of Saer or Neumann or . . . well, I might be getting into work again, it seems, what can I say.
One thought on “Borges, or, I guess I’ve got to develop another course”
Someone says: “I’ve come to see all disciplines as narrow definitions of death spirals, even the most “interdisciplinary”! Thought-action happens elsewhere. Ideation itself is disciplinary colonialism, practiced by billions worldwide. Critical thinking is among its symptoms, which raises the stakes considerably! Borges hints at limits of discipline (ie, History and Geography), as I read him here: https://vimeo.com/76963344“